Tuesday, March 16, 2010

meet Louise M. Gouge

Today I'm posting over At the Well, too. I'd love to have you join me there! Menu Planning from your Pantry --although this is something I do, I have to admit that menu planning is my most dreaded chore. Ridiculous, but true. *sigh*

Last week Sarah Sundin was here with A Distant Melody and the winner of the book drawing is Denise.

Patterings


Award-winning Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes historical fiction, calling her stories “threads of grace woven through time.” In addition to numerous other awards, Louise is the recipient of the prestigious Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award for her 2005 novel, Hannah Rose. With her great love of history and research, Louise loves to visit museums and travel to her stories’ settings to ensure accuracy. Louise has been married to David Gouge for 45 years. They have four grown children and six grandchildren. She earned her BA in English/Creative Writing at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and her Master of Liberal Studies degree at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Louise is also an adjunct professor of English and Humanities at Valencia Community College in Kissimmee, Florida.

You can find Louise online at www.louisemgouge.com.



The Captain's Lady

Torn between love and duty, American Patriot James Templeton must deny his heart to help win his country's freedom. Templeton's orders from General Washington are clear. His target: Lord Bennington, a member of George III's Privy Council. The assignment: find Bennington's war plans. The risks: the future of the East Florida Colony, Jamie's life...and his heart. In spite of the dangers of their hopeless situation, he's fallen in love with Lady Marianne Moberly, Lord Bennington's daughter. Desperate to protect his country, Jamie carries out his orders with a heavy heart. But Marianne's persistence is a challenge he never expected. With love and faith, they must navigate troubled waters to win their future together.


Here's an excerpt of The Captain's Lady:

I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. Song of Solomon 6:3

March 1776
London, England

Lady Marianne peered down through the peephole into the drawing room while her heart raced. Against her back, the heavy woolen tapestry extolling one of her ancestors’ mighty deeds pushed her into the wall of her father’s bedchamber, nearly choking her with its ancient dust. Yet she would endure anything to observe the entrance of Papa’s guest.

Often in childhood she and her closest brother had evaded the notice of Greyson, Papa’s valet, and crept in here to spy on their parents’ guests, even catching a glimpse of the Prime Minister once when he deigned to call upon Papa, his trusted friend, the earl of Bennington. But no exalted politician captured Marianne’s interest this day.

Her breath caught. Captain James Templeton–Jamie–entered the room with Papa, and warmth filled her heart and flowed up to her cheeks.

The two men spoke with the enthusiasm of friends reunited after many months of separation and eager to share their news. Unable to hear their words, Marianne forced herself to breathe. Jamie, the Loyalist American captain of a merchant ship. How handsome he was, taller than Papa by several inches. His bronzed complexion and light brown hair—now sun-kissed with golden streaks and pulled back in a queue—gave evidence of long exposure to the sun on his voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. In contrast to Papa’s blue silk jacket and white satin breeches, Jamie wore a plain brown jacket and black breeches. Yet to Marianne, Jamie, with his stately bearing, appeared as elegant and noble as Papa.

Hidden high above the drawing room, Marianne could not clearly see the blue eyes whose intense gaze had pierced her soul and claimed her heart less than a year ago. Jamie, always honest, always forthright. No wonder Papa took an interest in him, even to the extent of calling him his protégé, despite his utter lack of social position and being an American.

Marianne suspected part of Papa’s interest stemmed from wanting to secure the captain’s loyalty now that thirteen of England’s American colonies had rebelled against the Crown. But last year she had seen that the old dear truly liked Jamie, perhaps even more than his own four sons, a fact that stung both her heart and Mama’s. Yet, despite that affection, the earl’s patronage might not extend to accepting a merchant for a son-in-law.

How she and Jamie would overcome this prejudice, Marianne did not know. At this moment, all she knew was that her own affection for Jamie was unchanged. Last summer, against the better judgment of both of them, their friendship had intensified through shared interests, from reading Shakespeare and Aristotle to spending hours sailing on the Thames. On a short excursion with Papa aboard Jamie’s large sloop, the Fair Winds, Marianne and Jamie had whispered their confessions of undying love. Then Jamie had placed the sweetest, purest kiss on her lips, sealing her heart to his forever. Now her pulse pounded at the sight of him, and her heart felt a settled assurance that no other man could ever win her love.

Wriggling out of her hiding place between tapestry and wall, Marianne brushed dust from her pink day dress and hastened to the door. No doubt Greyson was below stairs, for at this time of day, Papa seldom required his services. Marianne escaped the bedchamber undetected and hurried down the hallway to her own quarters.

“Lady Marianne.” Emma emerged from her closet, her hands clasped at her waist. “Why, my lady, your dress.” She took hold of Marianne’s skirt and shook dust from it, then glanced up. “Oh, my. Your hair.” Her youthful, cherubic face creased with concern.

“Yes, Emma, I am a fright.” With a giddy laugh, Marianne brushed past her lady’s maid to sit at her dressing table. “Make haste and mend the damage. Oh, dear, look at this.” She removed a silvery cobweb from her hair, pulling several long black strands from the upswept coiffeur Emma had created earlier. “Please redo this. And I shall need another of my pink gowns.” More than one dandy had told her pink brought a pretty blush to her cheeks, so she wore the color often.

Her appearance repaired and Emma’s approving smile received, Marianne clutched her prayer book and hurried from her room. With a deep breath to compose herself, she held her head high and glided down the steps to the front entry hall. A quick glance revealed Jamie and Papa seated before the blazing hearth deep in genial conversation.

Marianne opened the book and mouthed the words of the morning prayer as she entered the room, not looking their way. Last year, Jamie’s parting words had encouraged her to greater piety, and she must let him know she had followed his advice.

The rustle of movement caught her attention. She cast a sidelong glance toward the men, who now stood to greet her.

“Why, Papa, I didn’t realize—” She stopped before completing the lie, while heat rushed to her cheeks. “Forgive me. I see you have a guest. Will you excuse me?” She could not look at Jamie for fear that her face would reveal her heart.

“Come, daughter, permit me to present my guest.” Papa beckoned her with a gentle wave of his bony, wrinkled hand. “You may recall him from last summer. Lady Marianne, Captain James Templeton of the East Florida Colony.” His presentation was accompanied by a shallow cough, and he held a lacy linen handkerchief to his lips.

Gripping her emotions, Marianne permitted herself to look at Jamie. His furrowed brow and the firm clenching of his square jaw sent a pang of worry through her. Was he not pleased to see her? Worse still, his gaze did not meet hers. Rather, he seemed to stare just over her head. Surely this was a ploy to divert any suspicion from the mutual affection they had spoken of only in whispers during his last visit.

“Good morning, Lady Marianne.” His rigid bow bespoke his lower status, but his rich, deep voice sent a pleasant shiver down her spine. “I hope you are well.”

Offering no smile, Marianne lifted her chin. “Quite well, thank you.” She closed her book and turned to Papa, her face a mask. “Will you be busy all day, sir?”

The fond gaze he returned brought forth a wave of guilt. “I fear that I must go to Whitehall for most of the afternoon. Is there something you require, my dear? You have but to ask.” His blue eyes, though pale from age, twinkled with his usual eagerness to please her.

Marianne’s feigned hauteur melted into warm affection. Truly, Papa did spoil her. Yet she lived in dread that he would never give her the one thing she desired above all else: the tall should-be knight who stood beside him. “No, dear. I am content.” She sent a quick look toward Jamie, who continued to stare beyond her. “I will leave you to your business affairs.”

Before she could turn, Papa coughed again, and she stepped closer, frowning with concern. He waved her off. “Never mind. I am well. But I have need of your assistance.” He clapped a pale hand on Jamie’s shoulder. “Captain Templeton has just arrived, and I have offered him lodging. Your mother is occupied with one of her charities, and your worthless brother has not put in an appearance for several days. Would you be so kind as to make certain the good captain is taken care of?”

A laugh of delight almost escaped Marianne, but she managed to release a sigh intended to convey boredom. “Very well, Papa. I shall see that he has accommodations.” She graced Jamie with a haughty glance. “Do you have a manservant, or shall we procure one for you?”

A hint of a smile softened his expression. “My man awaits out front in our hired carriage, Lady Marianne.”

“Very well, then. I shall instruct our butler, Blevins, to receive him.” She reached up to kiss Papa’s wrinkled cheek, breathing in the pleasant citrus fragrance of his shaving balm. “Do not let His Majesty weary you, darling.”

“Humph.” Papa straightened his shoulders and pushed out his chest. “I am not yet in my dotage, despite what you and your mother think.” Another cough accompanied his chuckle. “You have to watch these women, Templeton. They like to coddle a man.”

“Yes, sir.” Jamie’s tone held no emotion.

Marianne resisted the urge to offer a playful argument back to Papa. The sooner he left, the sooner she would have Jamie to herself. Yet how could she accomplish that and maintain propriety? She lifted the silver bell from the nearby table and rang it. A footman stepped into the room. “Tell Blevins we have need of him.”

“Yes, Lady Marianne.” The footman bowed and left the room.

“Blevins will attend you, Captain Templeton.” Marianne kissed Papa’s cheek again. “Enjoy your afternoon, Papa.” She shot a meaningful look at Jamie. “I am going to the garden to read.”

Gliding from the room with a well-practiced grace, she met Blevins in the entry hall and gave him instructions regarding Captain Templeton. “I believe the bedchamber at the end of the third floor is best. Do you agree?” With the room’s clear view of the garden, Jamie would have no trouble knowing when she was there.

“Yes, Lady Marianne. I shall see to it.” Blevins, of medium height but seeming taller due to his exceptionally straight posture, marched on stick-like legs toward the drawing room, his gait metered like a black-clad soldier who heard an invisible drummer.

Seated on the marble bench beneath one of the barren chestnut trees, Marianne drew her woolen shawl about her shoulders and tried to concentrate on the beloved words in her prayer book. But at the end of each Scripture verse, she found herself beseeching the Lord to send Jamie to her. As a guest in their home, he could visit her here in the garden without impropriety. Anyone looking out of any of the townhouse’s back windows could see their actions were blameless.

After a half hour passed, Marianne shivered in the early spring breeze, closed her book, and stared up at Jamie’s window, willing him to look out so that she might beckon him down. Perhaps he did not know they could meet here without censure. Yet had Papa not requested her assistance in making Jamie feel welcomed? Tapping her foot on the flagstone paving in front of the bench, she huffed out an impatient sigh. She had told him she would be in the garden. Why did he not come?

A rear door opened, and Marianne’s heart leapt. But it was John, one of the family’s red and gold liveried footmen, who emerged and approached her with a silver tray bearing a tea service and biscuits. “Begging your pardon, Lady Marianne, but Blevins thought you might like some refreshment.” John set the tray on the marble table beside her. “May I serve you, Lady Marianne?”

“Thank you, John. I can pour.” Perfect. An answer to prayer. “I should like for you to inform my father’s guest that he has missed his appointment with me. Please send Captain Templeton down straightaway.”

“Yes, Lady Marianne.” The ideal footman, John bowed away, his face revealing no emotion.

In a short time, Jamie emerged from the house. But instead of striding toward her with all eagerness, he walked as if facing the gallows, looking beyond her toward the stables, the hothouse, the treetops, anywhere but at her. By the time he came near, Marianne had almost succumbed to tears. Instead, she stood and reached out both hands to greet him.

“Jamie.” His name rushed out on a breath squeezed by joy and misery.

“You summoned me, Lady Marianne?” He stopped far beyond her reach and bowed. “I am at your service.”

She clasped her hands at her waist and laughed softly, but without mirth. “Such a cold tone to match a cold day. Where is the warmth that once graced your every word to me?”

For several moments, he stared at the ground, his lips set in a grim line and his jaw working. He seemed to compose himself, for at last he lifted his gaze to meet hers.

“My lady, I beg your forgiveness for my inappropriate conversations with you last summer.”

“But—”

“Please.” He raised his hand in a silencing gesture. “I will not betray the trust of Lord Bennington by arrogantly presuming an equality that would permit us . . . permit me . . . to pursue a lady so far above me.” For an instant, a sweet vulnerability crossed his eyes, but then all light disappeared from his face, replaced by the same blank expression John or any of the household servants might employ, a façade that bespoke their understanding of status and position. “You must not ask me to do that which would dishonor you, your family, and my faith.” He gave her a stiff bow. “Now, if you will excuse me, my lady.” Jamie spun around and strode back toward the house with what seemed like eagerness, something clearly lacking when he had come to meet her.

The Captain’s Lady
Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical
ISBN: 13-978-0-373-82832-6


You can purchase The Captain's Lady from CBD and Amazon:


Louise is giving away a copy of The Captain's Lady. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Tuesday, March23, to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on each post in this spotlight. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar, and purchasing, I will receive a very small percentage of the sale.

7 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:32 AM

    This book sounds good! I like an author who likes research. Smile.
    Sunny

    ReplyDelete
  2. I enjoy books in the Colonial setting and would love a chance to win The Captain's Lady. Thanks!

    worthy2bpraised[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would love this book.

    csdsksds[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't read mass market paperbacks because of the print size, so please don't enter me. I just wanted to say that I enjoy both Louise's writing and this time period very much, so I've ordered The Captain's Lady on my Kindle. Thank you for posting about this book, Patty.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous7:01 PM

    please count me in, patty...thanks.

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sounds like a good read. Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks.

    joann4us(at) yahoo(dot) comazjoann2

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for sharing! You make it easy to find good reading with good values.
    themommyanswer@verizon.net
    themommyanswer.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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